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 We eat and talk some and then hit the road pretty much nonstop until we reach Columbia, South Carolina. I go to an old high school and wish I paid attention when I was in school.
I head to the Columbia Mall and find some kids outside smoking pot so I ask if I can smoke with them. They let me and they ask me where I’m from. I tell them New York City and they all are struck with awe. They ask me a lot of questions about the City and I answer as best as I can.
I then walk to a Quincy’s restaurant and sit down at a recently emptied table and order a refill of the soda that was there. The waitress obviously knows that I wasn’t eating with the group that was there beforehand but she gives me a soda anyway and asks me if I want anything to eat. I say yes and she gets me a burger and fries. I eat and she talks with me for a while and then I go call my sister from a payphone.
"Hey Danielle, what’s up?" I say.
"Nothin much, who’s this?"
"I thought you lost your long distance again."
"I did. I’m in Columbia."
"What? How did ya get down here?"
"I hitchhiked."
"No, really. I’m going to the Mardi Gras in New Orleans."
"Want me to come get you?"
"What, you drive now? Hell yeah. I’ll wait here for you.
I’m at the Quincy’s"
"Okay, I’ll be right there."
"See you then."
I sit outside and smoke a cigarette. In a few hours, my sister shows up in her bug. She gets out and we hug.
"I swear I thought you were full of shit! I thought I was gonna be pissed that I came all the way out here." says Danielle.
"Nah. I decided I wanted to go to Mardi Gras because I was getting sick of my stupid jobs. Work sucks."
"Yeah it does, but shit. Hitchhiking’s crazy. You should go home."
"Fuck it. I’m gonna just take a mini-retirement now. What if I go to college, get a job, go to work for 50 years, then get hit by a bus on my 63 rd birthday? I’m just going to retire now for a few years. " "Yeah but what if you get picked up by a lunatic and killed now? Then you wouldn’t have lived at all."
"Yeah but you know what? I have more faith in people than that. I think there are still enough good people in the world that I should be able to make it. I’ll probably get tired of it after Mardi Gras anyway and go home then. "
"Okay. I hope so. Let’s go."
We get into her car and we go to her house in Taylors, South Carolina. She shows me the couch to sleep on and we talk for a while and catch up on the time we’ve been apart.
"What are we gonna do tomorrow?" I say.


Hitchin USA / Poetry ©  P.L.A.H. Enterprises